Once upon a time there was a little mouse who lived at Farmer Brown’s place in the country.
He and his parents and his brothers and sisters lived together in the old grainary in the barn, which had been empty for for many years. Their many relatives also lived in that huge building, but each had found its own little corner in which to hide away, because they didn’t like to move about in the day time. Animals like that are called “nocturnal.“
Squeeky, however, found sleeping when the sun was shining very boring, and secretly led an adventurous life no one knew about. But it often brought him into danger cause he was very young, but he didn’t understand what that meant.
There were other animals who lived on Mr Brown’s farm. There was a grey, striped cat who was very lazy most of the day, and slept in a basket in the kitchen beside Mrs Brown. She liked to sit in her rocking chair and knit things. She had two little sticks in her hand called knitting needles, and some wool. She made funny movements with her hands that made something grow below them. Usually it was socks for Mr Brown in the winter, or a baby’s sweater in the summer, because she had many grandchildren.
Squeeky had discovered a path from the barn to the house that ran along a rail fence, and he usually hurried to the house every day just to see what the people were doing. Fortunately for him there was an old truck sitting in the driveway where Squeeky was able to hide when the cat came out of the house to hunt for mice. It was a terrible moment the first time Squeeky saw one of his relatives being carried away in the cat’s mouth, and never to be seen again. His family in the grainary was crying when he got home because the word had spread about what happened. Everyone had liked that cousin. Squeeky’s mother scolded him for wandering off, and warned him about cats in general, who are the enemy of all mice.
But it was from the sky above that Squeeky learned came the greatest danger: big, silent birds that would swoop down unexpected and snatch little creatures moving about on the ground. These birds might be owls or hawks, who hunted night and day.
And so Squeeky learned that danger meant something might hurt you. But he also saw that the birds, even the big ones, were afraid of people, and flew away as soon as one appeared. Lots of animals are afraid of people.
Sqeeky loved food. Food has many colours and sizes and tastes. Food is good for you to help you grow and be strong. Everyone needs food. Mr and Mr Brown had funny meals at least three times a day that didn’t interest a little mouse. Even the food that Mrs Brown put in the cat’s dish on the floor tasted horrible to Squeeky, who took a hurried nibble one day when the cat wasn’t there. But yum, yum were the seeds in the grainary where he lived, and lots of other places in Squeeky’s travels. So this little mouse began to realize that there are many kinds of food, but not everyone eats the same things.
Squeeky was sitting in Mr Brown’s truck one day licking himself, which is how some animals clean their bodies. He leaped through the hole in the floor to hide just as Mr Brown opened the door and got in to drive to town. The noise was terrible and the whole vehicle shook badly when it was started, and that scared Squeeky a lot. He froze and didn’t dare move as he felt the truck move under him.
Some time later, Mr Brown stopped in town, and shut off the engine, and all the noise stopped. He got out and went into a store. Curious, Squeeky came out of hiding to peak through one of the windows. He had never seen a town before. A town has lots of buildings in it, some are where people live and some are where people buy things. Of course Squeeky didn’t know what buying something meant, but he had heard the Browns talking about it. And he later saw Mr Brown get some things he didn’t have before, and hand the man in the store building some pieces of pretty paper, and take those new things home. So that must be buying, he thought to himself. Mice don’t buy things. They are always searching for food when they go out.
In a few minutes, Mr Brown returned and drove home, and Squeeky discovered that the noise and shaking only occurred when Mr Brown was in the truck, and so he stopped being afraid. There would be many times when Squeeky would go to town with the Browns, but just now he was glad he was back at the farm. He paused first to look around for danger, but the cat wasn’t anywhere in sight . The sky held only nice birds who Squeeky had learned would not hurt him if he didn’t bother then, or go near their nest with babies inside. Every mother and father wants to protect their children and will fight others even bigger than themselves to do that. So Squeeky jumped down and scampered home and so ended another day.
Two dogs lived at the Brown farm, one old and one a young, foolish pup. The old hound lay on the veranda most of the time, stretched out and sleeping. A mouse could easily scoot past him if staying close to the wall and stopping quickly to hide under things. But the pup, called “Bob” was running around all the time exploring. He got excited whenever he found something new and would burst out barking and digging at anything he thought might be interesting.
It didn’t take Bob long to discover that mice families lived in the barn. They were terrified of that dog. Everyone scattered to hide when the dog came trotting through the barn door. But the Browns got tired of Bob’s barking, so one day to everyone’s relief, Bob was tied up on a long rope to a little house he could live in there in the back yard. Squeeky didn’t know that most hounds cannot be left loose to run about, or they will run off into the woods chasing animals, especially deer. But the Browns made a big mistake.
Bob was frustrated and chewed on that nasty rope that wouldn’t let him run and play. Feeling safe, Squeeky had started going back along the path to get into the house cause there were so many rooms to explore. Unknown to him, Bob had gotten loose. This day Squeeky was trying on some of Mrs Brown’s hats in her bedroom. She walked in to get something but didn’t notice her floppy hat wasn’t in its usual place. Squeeky was hiding under it. Bob came bounding into the room so happy to be free, and in a few moments smelled the mouse. He barked very loud and was about to jump on the hat when Mrs Brown grabbed him by the collar, saving Squeeky’s life. She took him back outside to his kennel to tie him up again. Mr Brown found a chain to use instead of the rope. In the meantime Squeeky fled the bedroom in a different direction and escaped.
Now in real life, mice don’t care about hats, but in stories anything can happen. It is called using our imagination, our thinking, just for the fun of it. So get ready, cause Squeeky is growing up and getting bolder and doing things mice are not supposed to do. Wait until I tell you about the time he went up in a space craft. Soon. But just then as the Browns came back into the house, Squeeky’s mother was calling him to come home for supper.
Squeeky lay in bed sick, feeling awful. Have you ever been sick? It’s no fun. He felt hot and then cold, and shivered a lot. He would pull the blankets over himself to try to get warm, and then toss them aside to try to get cool. Oh, he was going to die.
What is dying? People talk about it sometimes but it’s a mystery to a mouse. One moment someone is here, talking and laughing maybe, and the next they stop doing that and go silent and stiff. Then someone else comes and takes the person away and they are never seen again.
People are upset and then go to a place where there are many upright stones with squiggly words on them, They are called tombstones (toom-st-owns).
The place is called a cemetery (sem-i-terri). People stand around while someone speaks about the person who has just died. Sometimes the people do a very funny thing. They throw sand onto a box that is sitting there. Anyway, this is called a funeral. Usually there are lots of pretty flowers. Squeeky found out about all this once time when he went with the Browns in their truck, and sat there watching what was going on. Mrs Brown was weeping a bit, but Mr Brown as usual didn’t say much. Now mice don’t have funerals, so this was all new to our little friend.
Squeeky’s mother called for a mouse doctor to come and visit her son. He put a funny long chord with a round thing on its end on Squeeky’s chest (augh, it was cold) and the other end to his own ear and seemed to listen to something. Squeeky couldn’t hear anything new, but he did cough a lot. The doctor left some medicine which tasted awful, and Squeeky’s Mom insisted he take it, so of course he did. In a few days he felt better.
So this was what sickness was all about. Lying in bed a lot, feeling miserable and then in time getting better. No body likes being sick. But being smart, Squeeky did notice how much attention he got from everybody. He made funny, gurgly sounds in his throat one time just to see what would happen. Yep, his Mother leaped up and came to him quickly, but he pretended to be asleep. Because mice always seem to be having babies, Squeeky knew that crying always got people’s attention. It even worked sometimes when he didn’t want to go to school. But parents are smart, too. So off he went like everyone else whether he liked to or not.
Squeeky liked to watch people. He learned a lot that way. It was summer, and some of Mr and Mrs Brown’s grandchildren came to visit, once school was out.
“This should be interesting, “thought Squeeky, who went to his favourite hiding place where he could watch humans.
“They really are funny,” he thought to himself.
The little girl, Dana and her brother, Matt, decided to bake some cookies. Gramma helped them gather lots of things to use. They mixed some dry things and water and stirred and stirred, and the dry stuff flew everywhere. Everyone was laughing.
Mrs Brown put the cookies in a big hole in the wall that had a door on it . Big people call it an oven. The children ran away to wash and play. When everyone left, Squeeky came out and ran around on the table nibbling at the crumbs that lay there. He jumped to the floor to leave, but didn’t realize that the dry stuff was stuck to his feet, so he left a trail of footprints where he had been. Footprints are little marks on the floor or the ground when someone passes by. Even people can leave footprints.
Right then Mrs Brown came back, and stopped in doorway in shock. She yelled, screaming for Mr Brown to come. He had been sleeping in his chair in the living room, as he usually did most mornings. He jerked awake.
He stumbled into the room…What? he said.
“Mice, there are mice in my kitchen!” yelled Mrs Brown.
“Get the broom and kill them, right away!” she ordered.
At the same time, the grandchildren came running into the room, and were immediately as excited as Mrs Brown.
“A mouse, a real mouse! Wow.” I want to see a mouse, said Matt, who jumped up and down in excitement.
Poor Mr Brown went to a cupboard to get the broom, while Mrs Brown fled outside. She was terrified of thoughts of tiny animals invading her home. She was so nervous, and walked and walked around in a circle, too scared to come back inside.
Squeeky knew this was serious, and he froze where he was hidden in the wall behind the tall thing that made a big noise from time to time and held more food. The Browns called it a refrigerator, or “the fridge.” He could easily move up and down inside that wall and had different places where he could peak through a crack to see what was going on.
Meanwhile Mr Brown was beginning to move some chairs and stuck his broom into places where he couldn’t see very well. He was only doing this to please Mrs Brown cause mice were just part of farm life he thought. By this time Squeeky knew he had better get out of there, so he did. Mr Brown gave a few hard wacks on the wall as he heard the mouse leave. He went outside and banged the big garbage can out back near Bob’s kennel. He then found Mrs Brown and reassured her that the mouse was gone forever.
I don’t think she ever knew that no mouse went out in the garbage, and that Squeeky and his family were having a great laugh in the barn as he told them what had happened.